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Working papers: 2009

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WP397: Systems Thinking, Market Failure & the Development of Innovation Policy: The Case of Australia

Marc Dodgson, John Foster, Alan Hughes and J S Metcalfe

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Innovation policy is increasingly informed from the perspective of a national innovation system (NIS), but, despite the fact that research findings emphasise the importance of national differences in the framing conditions for innovation, policy prescriptions tend to be uniform. Justifications for innovation policy by organisations such as the OECD generally relate to notions of market failure, and the USA, with its focus on the commercialisation of public sector research and entrepreneurship, is commonly portrayed as the best model for international emulation. In this paper we develop a broad framework for NIS analysis, involving free market, coordination and complex-evolutionary system approaches. We argue that empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis that the ‘free market’ can be relied upon to promote innovation is limited, even in the USA, and the global financial crisis provides us with new opportunities to consider alternatives. The case of Australia is particularly interesting: a successful economy, but one that faces continuing productivity and innovation challenges. Drawing on information and analysis collected for a major review of Australia’s NIS, and the government’s 10-year plan in response to it, we show how the free market trajectory of policy-making of past decades is being extended, complemented and refocused by new approaches to coordination and complex-evolutionary system thinking. These approaches are shown to emphasise the importance of systemic connectivity, evolving institutions and organisational capabilities. Nonetheless, despite the fact that there has been much progress in this direction in the Australian debate, the predominant logic behind policy choices still remains one of addressing market failure, and the primary focus of policy attention continues to be science and research rather than demand-led approaches. We discuss how the development and elaboration of notions of systems failure, rather than just market failure, can further improve policy-making in the future.

WP396: Models of Technology Development in Intermediate Research Organisations

Andrea Mina, David Connell and Alan Hughes

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The development and exploitation of new scientific and technological know-how is a prime engine of economic growth. Different innovation systems have developed different approaches to this problem and have built upon varying combinations of public and private support for R&D over time. In this context, research and technology intermediaries play an important brokering and entrepreneurial role. This paper contains a comparative institutional analysis of the policy and business models of the Fraunhofer Society (Germany), IMEC (Belgium), the Holst Centre (the Netherlands), ITRI (Taiwan) and ETRI (South Korea). It includes an investigation and discussion of their main features, modus operandi, opportunities/risks and trade-offs. The study responds to the need to gain better understanding of possible ways to strengthen the capacity of the UK economy to generate value from its science and technology base. The case studies presented in this paper offer a number of useful lessons for the development of new innovation policy instruments of great potential benefit to the UK plc.

WP395: University & Business Relations: Connecting the Knowledge Economy

J Stanley Metcalfe

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The old question ‘How is wealth created from knowledge?’ captures with great force and clarity one of the most important problems in any economy, but it subsumes a far more particular and very modern instantiation, a simpler and more direct question, ‘How should universities interact with business in the promotion of economic progress?’ Like many seemingly simple questions they preclude any simple answers, yet it turns out that by focusing on the role of universities in the innovation process we can identify some of the deeper complexities of our knowledge based economies. In so doing, we may better understand the design of university-business relationships in pursuit of economic progress and provide surer guidance for policy initiatives in this area. The discussion is centred on three interrelated ideas: the division of labour in the production and use of knowledge; processes of knowledge accumulation; and, innovation systems. We conclude that, critics of the role of universities and firms in respect to their performance in supporting wealth creation should reflect first on the fact that the division of labour between profit seeking business corporations and universities reflects both the quite distinct roles that these organisations fulfil, and, the complementarity between those roles. We can all understand that it would be as unwise to expect firms to behave like universities as it would be to expect universities to behave like firms. The division of labour is there for a purpose, it should be respected.

WP394: Prospects for the UK Balance of Payments

Ken Coutts and Bob Rowthorn

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This paper presents disaggregated projections for the UK balance of payments up to 2020. Under conservative assumptions about underlying trends it is projected that the current account deficit will increase from 2% of GDP in 2009 to almost 5% of GDP by the end of the period. Empirical evidence indicates that a deficit of this magnitude is not sustainable and, if unchecked, will lead to a painful adjustment involving lost output and higher unemployment. The paper calls for industrial and other policies to improve UK trade performance, above all in manufacturing, but also in knowledge-intensive services (communications, consultancy, R&D, media etc). It also points out the need to safeguard London’s role as a global financial centre.

WP393: The Evolution of Ownership Disclosure Rules across Countries

Mathias M Siems and Michael C Schouten

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Over recent years, a number of regulators have launched proposals to expand the obligation to disclose major share ownership in listed companies. This article shows that these are not stand-alone developments. Using a unique dataset comprising data from 25 countries over 11 years (1995-2005) and collected by the Centre for Business Research of the University of Cambridge, we empirically study the evolution of ownership disclosure rules across countries. The analysis demonstrates that these rules have become more stringent over time, in the sense that disclosure thresholds have been lowered, and that there has been convergence. A breakdown of the results suggests that the degree of countries’ economic development is a relevant factor in explaining the differences between countries. The analysis also suggests a positive correlation between ownership disclosure and other variables that protect minority shareholders, as well as a positive correlation between the stringency of countries’ ownership disclosure rules and the degree of dispersed ownership. In the article, we offer various possible explanations for these results. Going forward, while it appears unlikely that disclosure thresholds will be lowered much further, ownership disclosure rules can be expected to continue to evolve in other dimensions. Regulators are likely to broaden the definition of the stake that triggers disclosure, so as to ensure that the ultimate owner is reached. In addition, regulators may require more information be disclosed when the notification is made, so as to enable other investors and issuers to adequately assess the implications of major share ownership.

WP392: Governance, Regulation & Financial Market Instability: The Implications for Policy

Sue Konzelmann, Frank Wilkinson, Marc Fovargue-Davies and Duncan Sankey

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Just as the 1929 Stock Market Crash discredited Classical economic theory and policy and opened the way for Keynesianism, a consequence of the collapse of confidence in financial markets and the banking system – and the effect that this has had on the global macro economy – is currently discrediting the ‘conventional wisdom’ of neo-liberalism. This paper argues that at the heart of the crisis is a breakdown in governance that has its roots in the co-evolution of political and economic developments and of economic theory and policy since the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression that followed. However, while many are looking back to the Great Depression and to the theories and policies that seemed to contribute to recovery during the first part of the twentieth century, we argue that the current context is different from the earlier one; and there are more recent events that may provide better insight into the causes and contributing factors giving rise to the present crisis and to the implications for theory and policy that follow.

WP391: System & Evolution in Corporate Governance

Simon Deakin and Fabio Carvalho

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We explore the relevance of systems theory for an understanding of legal evolution, with specific reference to the law and practice of corporate governance. The legal system can be understood as a cognitive resource which, by stabilising normative expectations, reduces transaction costs and enhances contractual cooperation. However, the cognitive capacity of the legal system is not simply a function of its adaptability to external economic conditions. Because of the need to ensure legal continuity and certainty, there is a trade-off between innovation and stabilisation in the production of legal rules. Legal change is discontinuous, asynchronic, and imperfectly matched with developments in the economy. We discuss the relevance of this model for understanding and evaluating corporate governance default rules.

WP390: Acquisition, Insolvency & Managers in UK Small Companies

Natalia Isachenkova and Melvyn Weeks

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This paper investigates the importance of managerial capital to involuntary insolvency and acquisition in UK small and medium-sized companies. Given that small businesses are informationally opaque and lack detailed financial data, the role of non-financial factors such as managerial capital has been emphasised. Although the role of managers in determining small firms’ longevity has received considerable attention, much of what has been written is concerned with businesses trading as either sole proprietors or partnerships. In this study we draw attention to the effect of managerial human capital and whether these findings generalise to incorporated small firms. In addition, we examine whether the determinants of exit exhibit significant differences across acquisition and insolvency. Using data from the survey database of the ESRC CBR at the University of Cambridge our results indicate that firms run by managers with higher human capital and intentions to pursue a strategy of growth have greater survival prospects and are less likely to be forced into insolvency or become acquired. In addition, the relevance to exit of firm age, firm size, and financial variables is confirmed.

WP389: Applying ‘Comply-or-Explain’: Conformance with Codes of Corporate Governance in the UK & Germany

David Seidl, Paul Sanderson and John Roberts

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The comply-or-explain principle is a central element of most codes of corporate governance. Originally put forward by the Cadbury Committee in the UK as a practical means of establishing a code of corporate governance whilst avoiding an inflexible ‘one size fits all’ approach, it has since been incorporated into code regimes around the world. Despite its wide application very little is known about the ways in which managers apply the principle – in particular, how they make use of the option to ‘explain’ deviations. To address this we analysed the compliance statements and reports of 257 listed companies in the UK and Germany, producing some 708 records of deviations, which we used to generate our empirically derived taxonomy of forms of ‘explanation’. We find these varied forms of ‘explanation’ are based in part on different logics of argumentation. This leads to a broader use of the option to ‘explain’ than envisaged by the Cadbury Committee. In addition our country comparison shows significant divergence in compliance patterns in the UK and Germany which may be explained by differences in experience, culture and legal system.

WP388: How a Social Capital Approach Can Help Multinationals Show Ethical Leadership

Peter Heslam, Ian Jones and Michael Pollitt

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In this paper we explore how social capital concepts can guide multinational firms’ decision making in developing countries. From a survey of recent research, we identify four types of social capital: institutional, relational, moral and spiritual. Because these capitals overlap and yet are distinctive, they are individually and collectively useful in assessing how firms contribute to society beyond the generation and accumulation of financial capital. In each case we discuss examples of how particular multinationals have sought to build the different elements of social capital. Our examples include Intel, Anglo American, Merck and ServiceMaster. We suggest that a consideration of the impact of decisions on each of these elements of social capital provides an important ‘moral compass’ for these firms. We also suggest further work that needs to be done in understanding the impact that multinationals have on the social capital of the countries in which they operate.

WP387: Law, Finance & Development Further Analyses of Longitudinal Data

Prabirjit Sarkar and Ajit Singh

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This paper analyses a longitudinal dataset on legal protection of shareholders over a 36 year period, 1970-2005 for four advanced countries, UK, France, Germany and the US. It examines two aspects of the legal origin hypothesis – whether shareholder protection is higher in the common law countries (UK and USA) than in the civil law countries (France and Germany) and whether shareholder protection matters for stock market development in the short and long runs. It also examines the ‘causation’ issue and the ‘endogeneity’ problem- whether greater shareholder protection leads to stock market development or whether stock market development leads to changes in law. The paper casts serious doubt on the validity of the basic theses of the Anglo Saxon legal and developmental model.

WP386: Networks of Learning within the English Wine Industry: Communitarian, Distanciated, Organisational & Redundant

Simon Turner

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The literature on industrial districts (also referred to as business clusters) has grown out of recognition that spatial proximity among firms supports the formation and exchange of knowledge within an industry and is therefore a source of competitive advantage. While such a ‘territorial’ perspective on interfirm relationships is valuable in highlighting the informal means through which firms can gain access to innovative knowledge, localised perspectives have received criticism from a number of quarters. This paper aims to evaluate the relevance of ‘territorial’ processes – untraded, informal, and localised relationships – for producing learning in industrial districts, when situated within a ‘relational’ perspective that also recognises the role of firm-specific strategies in shaping the learning practices that take place within industrial districts. The research explores the role of both territorial and non-territorial interfirm relationships within industrial districts using empirical evidence drawn from interviews with small enterprises working within the English wine industry of southern England. The findings suggest that the development of non-local knowledge links and formal interfirm arrangements by leading firms within the industrial district are starting to displace the extant communitarian logic of learning within the English wine industry

WP385: A Third Way: Regional Restructuring & the Societas Europaea

Jodie A Kirshner

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The Societas Europaea (SE) harmonised minimal amounts of company law and assigned employee representation to a supplementary negotiation process. Commentators predicted that it would introduce cross-border regulatory competition within the EU. Others suggested that companies would choose the SE over other national corporate structures, in order to mitigate the requirements of mandatory codetermination. This paper reports case-study evidence to argue that companies are utilising the SE in a third, more significant way: to facilitate within-group restructurings that enable them to submit to a simplified, integrated regulation at the level of the parent company. This generates pressure for the unification of additional areas of law and more national-level regulation. Empowering the SE therefore represents a first step towards streamlining the regulation of European companies.

WP384: An Augmented UK Private Expenditure Function

Bill Martin

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This paper re-examines the UK private sector expenditure function invented in the 1970s by the ‘New Cambridge’ School of economists led by Wynne Godley. Evidence is found that helps to justify the New Cambridge focus on a private sector aggregate. More problematic is the School’s basic axiom that posits a simple long-run target norm for private financial wealth in relation to income. The wealth to income ratio is instead subject to shifting trends and persistent oscillations.

WP383: Horse, Cow, Sheep, or ‘Thing-in-Itself’? The Cognitive Origins of Corporate Governance in Switzerland, Germany & the US, 1910s-1930s

Martin Lüpold and Gerhard Schnyder

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This paper investigates the origins of the shareholder-orientated corporate governance (CG) model of the US and the stakeholder-orientated model prevailing in continental Europe (exemplified by Switzerland and Germany) for most of the 20th century. We reject the most common theories, which explain cross-national differences in CG models either as the result of a natural evolution, different legal origins, social democratic political power, or openness to trade. We show instead that – starting from fairly similar corporate governance structures in the US and continental European countries during the late 19th century – the crucial period for the emergence of two different corporate governance models was the period from the 1910s to the 1930s. We stress in particular the importance that legal experts and the ideas that they produced played in this process. In fact, during this period, the increasing size of firms and the professionalisation of their management led to new problems, which increasingly challenged existing corporate governance structures and the related individualistic theory of the firm. The diagnoses of this situation and possible remedies formulated by legal scholars informed political decision-makers in times of uncertainty and contributed, in important ways to shaping the different ‘paths’, which the different countries went down subsequently. While the scholarly debates in all three countries were surprisingly similar, different solutions were finally institutionalised due to differences in the political context.

WP382: How Do Legal Roles Evolve? Evidence from a Cross-country Comparison of Shareholder, Creditor & Worker Protection

John Armour, Simon Deakin, Priya Lele and Mathias M Siems

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Much attention has been devoted in recent literature to the claim that a country’s ‘legal origin’ may make a difference to its pattern of financial development and more generally to its economic growth path. Proponents of this view assert that the ‘family’ within which a country’s legal system originated-be it common law, or one of the varieties of civil law-has a significant impact upon the quality of its legal protection of shareholders, which in turn impacts upon economic growth, through the channel of firms’ access to external finance. Complementary studies of creditors’ rights and labour regulation have buttressed the core claim that different legal families have different dynamic properties. Specifically, common law systems are thought to be better able to respond to the changing needs of a market economy than are civilian systems. This literature has, however, largely been based upon cross-sectional studies of the quality of corporate, insolvency and labour law at particular points in the late 1990s. In this paper, we report findings based on newly constructed indices which track legal change over time in the areas of shareholder, creditor and worker protection. The indices cover five systems for the period 1970-2005: three ‘parent’ systems, the UK, France and Germany; the world’s most developed economy, the US; and its largest democracy, India. The results cast doubt on the legal origin hypothesis in so far as they show that civil law systems have seen substantial increases in shareholder protection over the period in question. The pattern of change differs depending on the area which is being examined, with the law on creditor and worker protection demonstrating more divergence and heterogeneity than that relation to shareholders. The results for worker protection are more consistent with the legal origin claim than in the other two cases, but this overall result conceals significant diversity within the two ‘legal families’, with different countries relying on different institutional mechanisms to regulate labour. Until the late 1980s the law of the five countries was diverging, but in the last 10-15 years there has been some convergence, particularly in relation to shareholder protection.

WP381: Shareholder, Creditor & Worker Protection: Time Series Evidence about the Differences between French, German, Indian, UK & US Law

Mathias M Siems

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This paper uses a new quantitative methodology (“numerical comparative law”, “leximetrics”) in order to answer the questions whether there has been convergence, divergence or persistence of legal rules, and how this relates to the Common Law/Civil Law distinction. It is based on indices for shareholder, creditor, and worker protection which code the legal development of France, Germany, India, the UK and the US from 1970 to 2005. The main result is that one has to distinguish between different areas of law: the laws have converged in shareholder protection, they have diverged in worker protection and in creditor protection converging and diverging trends even out. These results do not depend on the distinction between Civil Law and Common Law countries because there have been a number of instances where countries of different legal families have converged and countries of the same legal family have diverged.

WP380: New Business Formation: An Important Element of Ireland’s Rapid Growth Experience?

Michael Anyadike-Danes, Helena Lenihan and Mike Hart

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The extraordinary growth of the Irish economy – the ‘Celtic Tiger’ – since the mid-1990s has attracted a great deal of interest, commentary and research. Indeed, many countries are now looking to Ireland as an economic development role model, and The Sapir Report (2003) has suggested that Ireland should be seen as providing key lessons for other EU countries with regards to realising the objectives set out in the Lisbon Agenda.